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article number 747
article date 01-17-2019
copyright 2019 by Author else SaltOfAmerica
We Enter the Golden Age of Television, 1951, Part 3: Control of TV . . . Competition, Government, Organizations and the Public
by TV Digest, (Philadelphia) writers


There’s no doubt that most phases of television will continue to permit us to enjoy high grade free entertainment in the comfort of our own homes. But new methods of exacting revenue are in the works which may affect our continued enjoyment of special sports events and set up a pay-as-you-go basis for viewing the newer, Class A movies.

We know that sport fans who formerly enjoyed a wide variety of sport events on television for free aren’t too pleased with the coming of Theatre-vision. The possible effects of Phonevision, which seems to be on way, are not yet known.

Because many readers may not be familiar with the terms “Phonevision” and “Theatrevision,” here’s a brief explanation of both:

Phonevision (when the go-ahead signal is given by the FCC) will work via hookup on your telephone wire. Each day a feature movie (and occasional major sport event) will be shown. If you would like to see the program being shown, you merely call Phonevision, tell the operator and your set is hooked up.

At the end of each month, the charges are tagged on to your telephone bill. Experiments in Chicago several months ago seem to indicate that many of the experimental families did not object to paying $1 apiece to see a fairly new feature movie in their homes . . . but, how would YOUR family feel about it?

Theatrevision works somewhat differently. A group of movie theatres—or interests—band together to buy the television rights of certain major sport events, such as championship boxing, football or world series baseball. The event is picked up on TV cameras, but instead of being beamed to the set in your living room, it goes by special wave-length and closed circuits to a large-screen TV set up in theatres across the country.

You’d see the special events in the movies instead of your own living room, but you’d see them as they happened—for a higher-than-usual price of the movie.

That’s the method which was employed on the Joe Louis-Lee Savold fight recently. For the event, 22,000 fans paid about $1.50 each to see the telecast in the movies. It didn’t work out well for the promoters the first time because the whole thing was experimental and conducted in just a few theatres.

It was Theatrevision that deprived the fight fans of the Louis-Savold telecast. But in the future, if such events are shown in movie theatres and not on television, would YOU patronize them?

CARTOON: Theatrevision, Phonevision, Fee TV and the TV Public, by Jerry Doyle.

Both Phonevision and Theatrevision can become thriving industries if they receive the support of the people. If their “take” for special sport events can be gigantic then they can easily outbid television sponsors. And of course, if they do outbid television, it follows that you can only see these events if you pay—whether at the gate, at the movies or through your telephone bill.

That’s the picture—and it could easily happen within the next few years: Right now, only YOU, the public, can determine whether all TV will be for free, or whether it’s going in the direction of “fee TV.”

Yes, you can tell us, and we hope you will. Below, we have prepared a simple questionnaire. Would you take the necessary time out from your busy day to inform us in what direction you would want television to go?

We want your unbiased opinions. We’d like you to be honest with yourself and us when you answer the questions. And, we hope you’ll be kind enough to send in your completed questionnaires (a simple way is to paste it on a penny postcard) as soon as you possibly can.


Fill in and mail to: TV Digest, 333 South Broad St., Phila. 7, Pa.

Check One
□ I would
□ I would not
- pay $1.00 or that approximate amount for the privilege of receiving on my television set at home such special programs as the newer Class A movies or special sport events.

Check One
□ I would
□ I would not
- pay $1.50, or that approximate sum, for the privilege of seeing a live telecast in a motion picture theatre of such sport events as championship boxing, pro or college football, world series baseball, etc., when such events are not on television.

Check One
□ I would
□ I would not
- be willing to contribute as much as (Check One) □ $1.00 □ $2.00 □ $5.00
per year if such a sum would help promote the telecasting of more local sports events on TV and help buy the telecasting rights to such series of local sport events as pro basketball, wrestling and ice hockey.

(RCA Advertisement in co-operation with the Better Business Bureau of New York City)

(This series of informative messages has been prepared in co-operation with the Better Business Bureau of New York City, in the interest of better understanding between the public and all television servicing organizations who are devoted to high quality service.)

Television parts have a life span too!

Television parts are designed to last as long as possible. With normal usage, many of them will last as long as the receiver itself. Others will have to be replaced from time to time.

Television manufacturers have provided special ventilation in the chassis to keep these parts from becoming overheated—as excessive heat will shorten the life span of the parts and tubes. The tubes last so many “lighted” hours, depending on normal manufacturing tolerances and a limited range of surrounding temperatures.

You are abusing your television set, if you have placed it near a source of external heat.

The location of your receiver is given special consideration by RCA’s own technicians when they install your RCA Victor television set, or on a routine service call.

RCA’s own Factory-Service Contract is sold only to RCA Victor television owners and includes this kind of advice. Remember, the contract can be purchased any time—regardless of how long you’ve had your receiver. Then, it can be renewed from year to year.

RCA Factory Service also is available to all owners of RCA Victor television on a per job basis, whether or not they have an RCA Victor Factory-Service Contract.

RCA Service Company, Inc. A Radio Corporation of America Subsidiary.



Several issues back, TV Digest carried an editorial titled “Will TV Be For Free?”—in which we acquainted our readers with the upcoming forms of “fee-TV”. These forms included Theatrevision, which is even now making a bid to eliminate some top sports event from our home-TV enjoyment.

Other “fee-TV” methods of exacting revenue from people who don’t want to pay it, include Phonevision or subscription TV. No matter what the form of “fee-TV”, we know now—from the questionnaire appended to our editorial—that Mr. Average John Q. Tele-Fan isn’t exactly in love with the idea of paying for his video entertainment.

The “Fee or Free TV Questionnaire” was answered by hundreds of TViewers and they came from every point in the Philadelphia viewing area. The cross-section of opinion gives a fairly accurate concensus of how our TV public feels about paying for TV shows. Returns on the questionnaire were most revealing. The first question was:

Would you pay $1.00 or that approximate amount for the privilege of receiving on your television set at home, such special programs as the newer class A movies or sport events? Probably because of the attraction of the newer movies, this question received the most active response for “fee-TV.” Of the replies, 27% said they would be willing to pay for special programs, top-grade movies or sport events. Seventy-three percent turned thumbs down on paying. Next question was:

Would you pay $1.50, or that approximate sum, for the privilege of seeing a live telecast in motion picture theatre of such sport events as championship boxing, pro or college football, world series baseball, etc., when such events are not on TV?

A mere 3.8% responded with a “yes” answer on this one, with the remainder, or 96.2% holding out for free-TV.

Would you contribute $1, $2, or $5 per year if such a sum would help promote the telecasting of more local sports events on TV and help buy the TV rights to such series of local sports as pro basketball, wrestling and ice hockey?
Response to this query was surprising. Only 38% turned it down with a flat “No.” Of the remaining 62%, about 8% were okay for $1., 26% wouldn’t mind contributing $2 and 28% offered to go as high as $5.

Obviously, from the trend of answers to the questionnaire you can get a pretty clear picture of how Mr. Average John Q. Tele-fan feels about fee-TV. As proven in the last query, he doesn’t mind forking out some dough for television entertainment of his own accord, if it’s placed on a “contribution” basis for the kind of shows of his own choice.

But, he’s pretty adamant about fee-TV. He neither wants the constant tax on his television entertainment nor the regular drain on his pocketbook.

CARTOON: Public sentiment on Fee vs. Free TV, by Jerry Doyle.

Action Being Taken To Protect TV Set-Owners

Several months ago, TV Digest launched an editorial drive to expose some of the sharp practices existing both in the sale and servicing of television sets. We pointed out the various ways in which John Q. Televiewer was taking a lacing from those who were making a racket out of television sales and service. We also called upon the authorities to help quell the gyp artists before many more innocent set-owners got hurt.

We’re glad to report, at this time, that some action is being taken to give television set owners a square deal. While it took a long time to set the wheels in motion, protective measures are on the way.

Firstly, the Better Business Bureau, in cooperation with manufacturers, distributors, financing agencies, retailers, service agencies and TV stations, has prepared a brochure for the benefit of set-owners and purchasers. Titled “What Can You Rightfully Expect from your TV Set and Your Dealer,” the leaflet outlines various television “Do’s and Don’ts” to guide you through buying a television set and financing it. Also emphasized, is what to expect from your serviceman and how to get good TV service.

These leaflets are available at any TV dealer or may be obtained on request from the TV Digest office. Just write us at 333 S. Broad Street, Phila. 7, Pa., and we’ll mail you a copy.

Another protective measure for television set owners may soon be realized in a bill introduced to the General Assembly of Pennsylvania by Messrs. Rose and Costa, Representatives from the Philadelphia area.

The bill, which was referred to Committee of State Government on June 19, 1951, would if passed, make it unlawful for any person to service radio and television receiving sets unless he has been duly licensed, registered and authorized to engage in such practice.

Bouquets ’n Barbs (column): NAACP’s Stance on the Amos ‘n’ Andy TV Show


by Hank O’Hare

After following with some interest news of the NAACP’s stand on the Amos ‘n’ Andy TV show, I studied the show itself. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples claim that the show depicts Negroes in a stereotyped and derogatory manner.

Much as I liked the AM and TV versions of Amos ‘n’ Andy before I read about this, another look convinced me that the NAACP is absolutely right.

Sponsors and network officials are trying to fight this back with the statement that Amos ‘n’ Andy has been a part of the American scene for 25 years. That’s no argument. Lynching has been part of our American scene for a lot longer—but that doesn’t make it right.

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There She Goes

By Harvey Pollack

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article is provided as a public service of SaltOfAmerica.com to relieve the reader from political article depression.

Today l am up in arms with those people who are up in arms about women wrestlers. My mail pouch has been burdened lately with missives from some of you readers, notably Jane Fry of Lansdowne, and Ed Goodacre, of Camden, blasting the feminine gladiators.

Well, I have found few faults with the weaker sex in any line of endeavor, whether it be sports or other professions. So I would like to come to the defense of such grapplers as Nell Stewart, Mildred Burke, Dot Dotson, and the others who have been and will be seen on your TV screens.

Nell Stewart.

Miss Fry and Mr. Goodacre point out that it’s unladylike for women to compete in wrestling. I fail to see this argument. I can recall when they said that it was a breach of decency for women to play tennis (in skirts or in shorts like most of our present stars), to play baseball or softball or other kindred sports.

Times have changed and so have the ideas on what women should do in all fields of endeavor.

The critics go on to say they can’t see any entertainment in what the women do. There I violently disagree. As a man I get a big kick out of seeing the women battle. I enjoy seeing them gouge each other’s eyes, pull each other by the hair, get each other in all sorts of holds.

A few women I polled on the question felt the same way. They couldn’t understand a person enjoying the men wrestlers and their various antics and not going for the women. I like them both, but must give a slight edge to the women.

Other people argue that the gals are “fakes,” that they turn their sets off as soon as they see them, etc. I’d like to point out that the gate receipts at women’s bouts are higher than at an average men’s match. I also see at women matches the same avid rooters ready to toss a chair at the villain and to carry the hero on their shoulders.

Like thousands of others, I enjoy the matches and would like to see more. Anybody know when the next one is on TV?

Nell Stewart flings Shirley Stremple about the ring as the referee ducks for safety in a typical women’s wrestling fracas.


Some time back we pointed up the rapid encroachment of theater-TV on our enjoyment of home television. We mourned the fact that the entire television industry was assuming an attitude of indifference against a formidable rival. We threw in a few extra tears because little was being done to fight theater-TV.

Now, it looks like those tears might not have been shed in vain. We ARE getting some action on this front.

First, a group of the top television set manufacturers pooled their resources to outbid theater-TV. They succeeded in doing an excellent job of this with the Walcott-Charles fight and there’ll be plenty more for the sports fans in the future. The combine plans to be right in there pitching for us home-TV fans.

And, now, there’s another kick-in- the-pants coming to theater-TV. Recently, down in Washington, charges were raised by the Fair Television Practices Committee which questioned the entire legality of theater-TV. The group plans to present its legal objections on box-office television to the FCC at an early hearing. While this hearing was originally set for September 17, it recently was postponed.

The FTPC has been punching plenty of legal holes into theater-TV. It is doing an effective job of demonstrating that theater-TV cannot function legally and is driving home its points with plenty of solid facts.

Jerome W. Marks, N.Y. attorney and chairman of the FTPC argues that “boxoffice TV offers no affirmative public service as required by the Communications Act and would violate the express purpose of the act, which was to make radio and television available to all the people of the United States.”

Marks points out that the “sole purpose of theater-TV is commercial.” He also emphasizes the fact that the FCC had never approved subscription radio and thus “no precedent of any kind whatever exists for granting to theater television exclusive use of any publicly owned television channels.”

Since theater television may necessarily resort to the use of television channels or co-axial cable, the FTPC believes that the FCC is empowered to act with regard to putting thumbs down on the use of boxoffice TV.

On the other hand, an FCC official, when questioned, is reported to have stated that the FCC has no jurisdiction over the use of facilities such as the coaxial cable, except where illegal operations might take place.

Win, lose or draw . . . it’s invigorating to know that organizations with the ability to put up a fight are not just standing by waiting for something to happen. When they carry the fight to the opposition, they’re doing a job for us televiewers too.

CARTOON: Fair Television Practices Committee punching Theatre TV, by Jerry Doyle.


Several months ago, we told our readers about “House Bills Nos. 1464 and 1465” which were introduced to the General
Assembly of Pennsylvania on June 18, 1951. Now, more details are available on these bills, which if passed, are of importance to all who own television sets in the State of Pennsylvania.

House Bills Nos. 1464 and 1465 are twin bills proposed for the following purposes:

1. to amend a previous law to permit the addition of another state board, the “State Board of Examiners of Radio, Television and Electronics Devices Servicemen,” and

2. to provide for the licensing and registration of all persons engaged in radio, television and electronics devices servicing.

The bills have been designed primarily with the intention of alleviating, if not eliminating, some of the sharp practices in the servicing of television sets.

Because of the occasional tampering with TV receivers by persons unqualified to do so, it provides for minimum educational and experience standards on the part of those entering the field of television service—750 hours of school training plus six months of practical experience.

In accordance with the terms of the bills, individuals may be duly licensed if they can show documentary proof of two years of servicing experience. Whenever proof is conclusive, examinations may be waived by the State Board. On the other hand, whenever there is room for doubt, the Board may insist on an examination.

The proposed State Board is to be composed of seven members, four of which should be qualified technicians, with one member representing Education, one from Labor and one from Industry. In addition, a board of inspectors will be set up, with the job of seeing that the Bills, if passed as law, are enforced.

Unquestionably, many feel that state authority has helped with the control and legislation of other forms of qualified technical service. Even fields in which a lesser degree of knowledge is required are controlled by state boards to make sure that better standards exist.

On the other hand, the bills have been under attack by others who feel that they are inadequate and will not help solve the existing problem.

In a future issue of TV Digest, various leaders in the television industry will express their views on the value of the licensing of television servicemen.

In the meantime, what do YOU think of House Bills Nos. 1464 and 1465? Whether you’re a TV serviceman, a TV set dealer, a manufacturer, a student—or just another television set-owner like ourselves—why not write us your opinion for publication?

CARTOON: TV Public viewing Pennsylvania Legislature reviewing topic of licensing TV servicemen, by Jerry Doyle.
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Legalized Sunday TV Ice Hockey and Basketball Still on Ice

By Harvey Pollack

Our mail pouch has been laden lately with queries as to what the state legislature has done to legalize Sunday basketball and ice hockey in this state.

We can answer these letters in a self-explanatory word—NOTHING.

Yes, the representatives of the people have sat on House Bills 216 and 217 ever since they were introduced by Rep. Pichney. Whereas they’ve battled tooth and nail to discover the solution to the tax problem, they haven’t even brought the sports bills out of committee.

When the bills were first introduced and sent to committee for study, several minority elements raised a hue and cry against the bills which would have legalized ice hockey and basketball, placed the sports on equal footing with football and baseball, and undoubtedly enabled television fans to see the games in their living rooms.

This yelping scared a few of the congressmen, and so ever since they haven’t touched the bills or even made any attempt to study them. The bills are just lying dormant in committee.

Several of the congressmen have stated off the record that “there’s no doubt that basketball and ice hockey should be legalized and that the bills should be passed.” But they also confide that they don’t want to take any forthright action because they don’t want to antagonize ANY of their constituents even though the majority of them want the bills passed.

Television fans are extremely upset over the situation. The Warriors point out that they are willing to have the games screened, a sponsor is willing to pick up the tab on Sunday afternoon tilts and time can be cleared on the local channels.

The only hitch is making the games legal.

What rankles sports fans most of all is that in many locales in the state, basketball and ice hockey are played on Sundays without the slightest protest from the people in the area concerned. But whenever any attempt is made to try it here, the wails of protest are heard from all sides. Why not have uniformity throughout the whole state?

Furthermore, the door is not closed yet even though the schedule of the Basketball Association of America is already slated. The Warriors have arranged their card so that in the event the Sunday sports bills are passed, their Tuesday games can still be moved up to Sundays.

So the only solution is Sunday games where all the necessary ingredients are handy—time, rights, and sponsor. Lets wake up the legislature when it reconvenes on Sept 17 because it surely is sleeping.

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